PALO ALTO, Calif .– Buses arrived at Louis Guisto Field in Moraga, Calif. On Wednesday afternoon as the Nevada baseball team headed out onto the field for their first practice in the Bay Area in preparation for the Stanford Regional . The fact that Nevada was still training after Memorial Day brought a smile to Wolf Pack coach TJ Bruce.
“Training the week after Memorial Day has always been the goal,” Bruce told Nevada Sports Net. “Whenever you can do it, you are really happy. Glad to see these guys get the opportunity. They deserve this opportunity for all of their hard work. Glad to see these guys training and practicing this week.
This will be the Wolf Pack’s fifth trip to the NCAA tournament, the last having taken place 21 years ago. Many great players and great teams have come and gone from the program over the past two decades, but Nevada is not focused on the past but rather on the future.
With the Wolf Pack pitch at Peccole Park being FieldTurf, the team hit the road and stopped at Saint Mary’s to re-acclimatize to a natural surface, on which they will play at Stanford’s Sunken Diamond.
“I hope that doesn’t play too much of a role,” Bruce said of the surface change. “That’s part of why we got out of town and train here rather than on grass, to acclimatize more. We will have a day today on a natural surface and tomorrow on a natural surface. The good news is some of our opponents have a natural surface so we’ll try not to make too much of a fuss, but I think it’s just more ball speed, the bunting game, inside the game, which we try to focus on.
Nevada’s first game in the double-elimination tournament is against UC Irvine, which is making its ninth trip to an NCAA Regional since 2004, albeit its first since 2014. The Anteaters are a well-rounded team that ranks in the league. the top 35 in the country. in points scored per game (7.2) and ERA (3.87), both 32nd in the NCAA. They are led by third-year head coach Ben Orloff.
“Benny does a great job,” Bruce said. “We’ve kind of been part of the assistants circuit together. Still very familiar with him as a player. I was an assistant at Long Beach when he was a player, but he does a great job. They are very basically healthy. They won 40 games in a tough league. They played 13 games against the Pac-12. They play a program like ours. Again, it’s no different than what we had to do every other weekend. We have to get our ankles wrapped for the weekend, to go out and have a good performance.
The Wolf Pack counter with one of the best offensives in the country, ranking fifth in the country for batting average at .319 while defense ranks in the top 20 with a defensive percentage of .979. However, there is one statistic that lags behind the others. Nevada ranks 166th out of 286 ERA Division I teams at 5.49.
“Obviously we’re throwing in some offensive parks so the numbers are a bit skewed,” Bruce said. “But if you look at our pitchers, (pitching coach Troy) Buckley has done an incredible job with our staff. They just got better and better. And I think our team is getting better and better. And you make out our starting pitcher and what these guys have been doing, week after week, they’re one percent better every day. I think they did a very good job. I think Buckley did a great job with our guys, and I can’t wait to play Friday night.
Family and friends will be limited to Sunken Diamond (4,500 capacity) this weekend, as Stanford is operating at 25% capacity, making tickets hard to find.
“It is what it is,” Bruce said. “Stanford has a great place. Bit disappointing (in capacity). I just wish the atmosphere was what an NCAA regional is. I understand, and then again, it won’t affect the way we approach the game and the rest of the teams. Everyone is there to do a job. I can’t worry about the number of people in the stands, or the number, or the lack. So we’re just going to go out there and do the job that we need to do. “
This is the first regional spot for Bruce in his six seasons as a head coach, but he was a regular there as an assistant coach at Long Beach State and UCLA, where he won a national title in 2013. Bruce explained his pre-game routine. before the big games.
“I like being in my room an hour before the game,” Bruce said. “That’s it. Or before we go. So if we leave at 3:30 p.m., I have to be in my room by 2:30 p.m. It’s my own routine. Other than that, I don’t eat anything different, but I need to be. to have my free time an hour before getting on the bus or going out to stretch at home.